Hook Selection for Dry Flies

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Photo by Bob Reece

Photo by Bob Reece

By Bob Reece

The crisp image of a delicately floating dry fly epitomizes fly fishing for many anglers.

The visual attributes and buoyancy of surface riding patterns are important.   However, the shape and structure of the metal that forms their core is equally significant.

Within the world of trout focused dry flies, there are two major classes.  These consist of traditional dries and terrestrials.  There is significant variation among profiles in these classes of artificial bugs.   This discrepancy of shape can be imitated through the use or varying hook shank lengths or the creation of extended bodies.

When constructing many traditional dries with dubbing based bodies, hook shank length determines the abdomen length.  If you’re constructing a pattern that has been created by a professional tier follow their recommended hook in the original recipe.  They chose this hook to match the proportion of the insect they were imitating.  It can also be helpful to pay attention to the brand of hook that they have chosen.  The strength and quality of all manufactured hooks is not equal.  When creating your own dubbing based bodies, research the actual insect you are imitating.  Choose a hook shank length that allows you to accurately match its profile in terms of length.

Abdomens constructed of hair, foam and other rigid materials can be tied onto the hook shank.   However, the firm nature of these materials lends to the creation of extended abdomens.  The prolonged portion of these patterns reach rearward from the bench of a shorter shanked hook.  While this style of pattern typically requires more tying time, it does provide some advantages.  Using a shorter shanked hook reduces the amount of metal and subsequently increases the buoyancy of the pattern.  Additionally, the central location of the hook results in a higher success rate of hooking fish.  Lastly, the shortened shank length reduces leverage that can pry the hook loose while playing the fish.

For many dry fly patterns, delicacy is a key factory in their effectiveness. 

While this attribute may be essential to profile it should not be true of the hook that they sit on.   Most dries are presented with light weight rods.  The increased flexibility of these rods provides a buffer for extra fine hooks.  Regardless of this fact, there are differences in hook strength within this weight class.  These differences are partially linked to hook shape.  For example, a super fine hook with a straight shank displays a greater resistance to bending open than a hook in that weight class with a curved hook shank.  In light of this, I tie my curved shank dry fly patterns on standard weight nymph hooks with the same shape.  I always use the strongest possible hook for all of my dries, up to the point where it does not affect the buoyancy of the pattern.

Consistent growth stems from equally unswerving evaluation.  As you move forward with your construction of dry flies stop to appraise the intended imitation and application of your creation.   Choosing a worthy hook helps to increase the arrival of fish in your net.

To see more of Bob Reece’s Fly Tying videos, click on the link below:


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Bob Reece
Gink & Gasoline
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2 thoughts on “Hook Selection for Dry Flies

  1. Pingback: Tippets: Selecting Hooks for Dry Flies, Still Water Trout - Pesca y Bits

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